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Impact India 360
A Doc and a Young Veteran
Hey all – we have started our last full day at CEM while you are sleeping. The thing that we’ve learned is that a mission team brings a lot of different lives and experiences together and creates an amazing opportunity to learn. We deal with amazing culture shock and some discomfort, but God always shows up in so many different ways. Here are a couple of stories that show it…

A Physician’s Perspective

The medical camp Tuesday was interesting to say the least.  The day before, we went to check the location, which was a local high school.  School was in session, and as I walked by, the class erupted with yelling.  Chris Cook asked me, “How does is feel to be a rock star?”  The only word that came to mind was “humbling”.  There were 4 rooms, 3 of which were empty concrete rooms, with a blackboard on one wall.  On Tuesday there was a holiday (Gandhi’s birthday) so school was not in session.  It started to rain as we arrived and continued for the next several hours.

I had brought some equipment with me, but barely needed any of it, as the patients started coming in and we had to see them so fast, most I did not have time to do any type of physical examination.  The main complaints were joint pain, weakness, and cough.  I am pretty sure that there was more to it than just these simple complaints, but I was a victim of not being able to understand the language.

I was prescribing medication that we don’t use in the U.S. any more because it has not been found to be useful, but that is all that was available. It was, at times, terribly frustrating.  We only had three or four minutes per patient, and much of that time was spent in translation.  For a while, I was feeling very useless.

Later, on reflection, I felt better, because we at least gave them access to medical care, even though we couldn’t do everything that was truly necessary.  A lot of the people were recommended to go to the hospital for follow up.  I asked how many would actually go, and the answer was only about twenty percent. Is this an education issue or a feeling of no hope?

So I am left with mixed feelings… good, sad, heartbreaking, frustrating, eye opening. There is so much need for better medical care, but there is not a mechanism right now.  Basically they need to go to the government hospital for care (“it’s not that far” I was told), which would be difficult. Half of the people we saw were over 65 and they walked to the clinic in the rain.  I am told that the rain kept most people away, including the sickest patients.  That makes me sad, as the people that could have used our help the most did not come.

So at the end, I am overjoyed at having been able to participate in the medical camp and thank God that we were able to help so many people (ed. note – the camp saw 175 people). Yet I am left with knowing that so much more is necessary… both physically and spiritually.

Last night we went to Rajahmundry.  It is such a stark contrast to Dowlaiswaram, the “suburb” where CEM is. It reminds me of driving from Detroit to Grosse Pointe along Jefferson Avenue, multiplied times 1000. It is not touristy – basically the shopping area for everyone in the local area, like a gigantic outside mall.  There are too many shops to count.  It amazes me that so many storefronts can be sustained.  For example, down one alley, there were over twenty shops that sold men’s shirts.  The number of people going down through the street was mind-boggling.  And it was more complex, as people were everywhere with their motorcycles.

Our journey home starts tomorrow.  And while I will miss this place, I am ready to go home.  I guess I am spoiled by the West, with power that stays on and climate control.  But mostly I miss the ones I love.  I cannot wait to see them, hold them, and talk to them.  This place gave me more in this short week than I could ever hope to give back.

The two things I will miss the most are the Agape home and chapel.  The people at the Agape home are so thankful that they can stay here.  They were literally starving on the streets before they were brought here.  Chapel brings new meaning to worship. There is such passion and enthusiasm that it puts our worship to shame.

So have a great day.  We will see you soon.   God bless.


Veteran at Sixteen

This trip so far has been amazing. I didn’t realize how excited I was to come back until we were on the bus from the airport to the orphanage. I remembered how happy everyone was on the streets and how surprised they were to see Americans. They still are when we go out. If you smile at someone, they always smile back. If you wave at someone, they always wave back. It’s nothing like America. You see it in the lifestyle and culture and the attitudes of the people that have nothing. If you were to smile at someone in America, they would a lot of the time just awkwardly smile back. People are a lot of the time scared to make eye contact with strangers. But here, everyone looks you straight in the eye when they see you and their smiles make my day. The other day a girl that was on the street came up to me and took my hand. She asked me what my name was, and how I was doing. As we passed her family, she told me and I waved. They smiled and waved back. She walked with me the rest of the way, then said bye. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in America, and it’s something I love about the people of India. They are so sweet, and so interested in you.

I wasn’t nervous for this trip. I was only eager to see what God would do in my own life and in the relationships that would be made and the relationships that would be strengthened. I was excited to see how the other members on my team would handle everything and how they would connect with the people of India. And they have handled it so well, and I loved seeing them connect with the kids all week.

I love being with the kids. They call me sister and they don’t want me to leave. I don’t want to leave, but so many memories come out of one week here. The way they worship is nothing like you would see in America. They are all so compassionate about it. They get up every morning to be in chapel by 6am. Even though it’s early, by that time they are full of energy and they are ready to praise God. To see all of these kids thankful and praising God the way they do, makes me feel so selfish, yet so blessed. They make me realize how much I have, and how amazing God is. They see Him in a different way.

There’s so many hopeless lives here in India; so many people begging on the streets for money. So much poverty. If I could personally touch every life in India to give them hope, I would. But that’s why I’m starting somewhere. By starting in the orphanage, I’m trying my best to show them they are loved. I wish I could spend personal, one on one time with each and every one of them. When we walk them to school every morning, I always wish I could hold everyone’s hand. I want them all to know how special they are. Because I know they don’t get that personal attention all year. They always ask, “My name?” hoping I remembered. I always try to remember but it’s definitely a challenge. I wish I could remember every name just to show them how much I pay attention, but that would take a very long time. But I hope I make some sort of difference in their life the one week I get to be here.

Like I said, the lifestyle here is so much different than the lifestyle in the U.S. Everyone drives on whatever side of the road they want, but if anything it’s opposite of the U.S. People just want to get to where they need to be. When you’re in the bus driving through India, it’s just chaotic. There are always horns honking and drivers swerving out of the way just in time not to hit someone.

The market is nothing like a grocery store. People sit on cloths outside on the ground, sometimes under tents, with the food they sell piled high, such as fish; which makes it smell bad. There are people cutting chickens heads off and skinning them. It’s weird to think that’s our dinner. The market is always crowded and it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with the rest of the team. It makes you feel like you’re in a movie. There’s so much going on at once.

I want to make a difference in India. I’m so thankful for Jaya and him starting this orphanage. It’s amazing to see God do things like this. I know He can do anything, but actually seeing it for myself is completely different than just “knowing”. I plan to come back to India every year. I’m in love with these people. I know everything here is crazy and chaotic at times, but that’s what I fell in love with. I fell in love with all the orphans, even when they get crazy. I fell in love with the way of life, and the things I see here that I’ve never seen before. I fell in love with the random people on the streets that come up and take my hand, and even the ones who just smile and wave. This place is like a home to me. I feel comfortable here and I just want to see God continue to work in the lives of these people.